Tarikhu-s Subuktigin

Tarikhu-s Subuktigin of Abu-l Fazl al Baihaki (b. 388 H., 995 CE; d. 470 H., 1077 CE).  A history of Ghaznivites up to 451 H. (1059 CE).

In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 1, pp. 48-144.

  1. Overview

The Tarikhu-s Subuktigin, also known as the Tarikhi-i Al-i Subuktigin and the Tarikhi-i Baihaki.  It is a history of the house of Ghazni up to 451 H., 1059 CE.  It thus covers the reign of Amir Nasiru-d Subuktigin, the founder of the Ghaznivid dynasty.  Originally he was a slave and son-in-law of Alptigîn, who was appointed the governor of Khurasan under the Samânids in 961 CE.  Within a year, however, he was estranged from the Samânids and seized Ghaznî, and strategic town on the trade route linking India with Persia.  Ghaznî became a true power under Subuktigin, who ruled from 976-97 CE.  He retained, however, the title of amir, accepting thus Samânid suzerainity, however nominal.

The history also covers his son and successor, Sultan Mahmud (r. 997-1030 CE), who abandoned the pretext of recognizing Samânid authority, and took on the title of Sultan.  It was under Mahmud that the Ghaznivids reached their height of power.  The history also covers the era of their successors, during which the fortunes and power of the Ghaznivites rapidly eroded.  The Tarikhu-s Subuktigin is a well known history often cited by later Persian historians.

The author of this history is Kwaja Abu-l Fazl bin al Hasan al Baihaki.  He was born c. 386 H. (995 CE), and reportedly passed away in 470 H. (1077 CE).  It was reportedly a large work of several volumes.  The majority of the text, however, has been lost.  There are several manscripts in India, one in the Bodelian Library at Oxford, one in the Bibiliotheque National in Paris, and one in St. Petersburg.  All appear to be late copies made from the same incomplete original text.

The excerpts included here deals with one of the numerous raids of Amir Nasiru-d din Subuktigin of Ghazni (in modern Afghanistan) and his son and successor, Sultan Mahmud.  Amir Subuktigin made his first of many raids into India starting in 376 H. (986-87 CE), and was assisted by his son Mahmud in many of them.  Mahmud, after succeeding his father to throne of Ghaznî, in 997 CE, continued his father’s policy and conducted many more raids until his death in 1030 CE.  His numerous incursions into India were largely raids designed to capture spoil in material wealth, slaves and livestock.  He is portrayed as a zealous Muslim eager to destroy “idol temples”, but this was probably justification for pillage, since these activities contravened the earlier Arab policy of granting Hindus and Buddhists protected dhimmi status.  These raids generally were not conquests resulting in annexation of territory, with the exception of the Punjab, most of which he did annex.  Ghaznivite control even of the Punjab passed away with Mahmud.  His incessant raiding over the course of almost thirty years, however, clearly destabilized Northern India and paved the way for the Muhammad Ghûrî’s invasion of northern India in 1175 CE, which led to the establishment of the Delhi sultanate.  The excerpt here described the assault on the fort of Hansi in Northern India.

  1. Excerpt

 [p. 130]

The Sultan takes the Fort of Hansi

On Saturday, the 14th, of Safar, the Amir had recovered, and held a darbar, and on Tuesday the 17th, he left the Jailam, and arrived at the fort of Hansi on Wednesday, the 9th of Rabi’u-l awwal, and pitched his camp under the fort, which he invested.  Fights were constantly taking place in a manner that could not be exceeded for their severity.  The garrison made desperate attempts at defence, and relaxed no effort.  In the victorious army the slaves of the household behaved very gallantly, and such a virgin fort was worthy of their valour.  At last, mines were sprung in five places, and the wall was brought down, and the fort was stormed by the sword on Monday, ten days before the close of Rabi’u-l awwal.  The Brahmans and other higher men were slain, and their women and children were carried away captive and all the treasure which was found was divided amongst the army.  The fort was known in Hindustan as “The Virgin,” as no one yet had been able to take it.